International

The international impact of the Antigonish Movement really began in the mid-1930's. As word spread about the Extension Department’s successes, a host of influential visitors came to Nova Scotia to see and learn firsthand about its work. Many visitor-observers were contacts of Father Jimmy Tompkins; they in turn brought others. In addition, Dr. Moses Coady was frequently invited to speak in the US, and in 1936, the Carnegie Foundation and the National Catholic Welfare Conference sponsored his twelve-city lecture tour. As well, The New York Times, The London Times and The BBC ran features on the Movement. The techniques and ideas of the Antigonish Movement were thus widely disseminated and became influential in the US and beyond. For example, the Ohio Farm Bureau and the Cooperative League of America sent representatives to Antigonish who ultimately adopted some of its practices. Further afield, two Australians, Kevin Yates and Father John Gallagher, who came through Antigonish during the mid-1940's, returned "down under" and implemented the Extension program there. Today, Yates is considered the founder of credit unions in Australia. Between 1946 and 1960, some 275 men from Pakistan, India and Indonesia came to Antigonish to learn about the Antigonish Movement. These students returned to their home countries and carried the message of the Extension program far from Antigonish.

This growing influx of observers and students occasioned the creation of the Coady International Institute [The Coady] in 1959. In addition to its diploma and certificate programs offered at St.F.X. in Antigonish, The Coady offered short courses and consultations in Africa, the Indian sub-continent, southeast Asia and the Caribbean. The impact of the Coady is impossible to measure comprehensively, but a window on its scope is opened by the 1978 travel itinerary of its director Father George Topshee. Starting in Seoul, he traveled through Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India. Along the way, he toured credit unions, craft co-ops and study clubs, many of them the creations of Coady graduates. He personally met nine alumni and recorded an impressive, firsthand account of their accomplishments. One in particular stands out. He visited a stone quarry outside of Bangalore, India where 40,000 souls laboured as  "bonded" workers. They were de facto slaves of the owners of their debts and lived in terrible conditions. A Coady graduate, Joe Ulahanan, and Father Harry Stocks were attempting to start a co-operative quarry that would break the workers’ bondage. Father Harry and Joe were able, after organizing an association of 4,000 workers, to obtain the lease for four quarries. They went to organize co-ops to run the quarries, build housing, start credit unions and stores. How could one measure the impact of freeing just one of those workers and their families from that deplorable circumstance? By 1984, Coady staff and alumni had established 49 development centres and agencies across Africa, Asia and Latin America that retained links to the Institute.

The original inspiration and purpose of the Antigonish Movement still informs The Coady today as it carries out "traditional" agricultural and rural development work through partnerships with organizations like the Southeast Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN) in the Philippines. Meanwhile, The Coady has adapted to current realities and new localities. Today, The Coady partners with organizations designed to assist in small-scale capital formation and entrepreneurship. Together with the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and the Friends of Women's World Banking in India, it is developing the innovative Indian School of Microfinance for Women (ISMFW) in Ahmedabad, India. The ISMFW is designed to fill the gap between the established financial institutions and the millions of people - mostly women - who lack access to basic financial services.

In 2009, the Coady International Institute works in many sectors, such as civil society, strengthening community initiatives and institutions. It also promotes peace-building in war-torn countries, and encourages the development of community-based assets among Canada’s First Nations and other indigenous people around the world. Wherever its staff and alumni are found, however, they continue to aim the inspirational message of the Antigonish Movement at the same target that Coady and Tompkins had aimed at in the 1920's and 1930's - the hearts, minds and imagination of the common people. A strong impact has always been the dynamic of the movements’ influence and achievements at the regional, national, and global levels.